The first thoughts that I am going to share with you is the fact I personally enjoy watching Blake Griffin play. The extremely athletic forward seems like he can glide for miles and jump to the moon after he takes off for one of his monster dunks. The man is so athletic that with a very unrefined game he is averaging a double double this season in only his second year. Greatness for Mr. Griffin was surely his destiny. If nothing else he performed what I believe to be the impossible by making the Clippers relevant. However, the reason for his greatness is not really because of just his freakish athleticism.
Despite the NBA hype machine’s best efforts to make you believe that he was truly a great player after his rookie year, Blake Griffin was avery flawed player after his rookie season. The hype did not match his game. He was flashy, yet his flaws prevented him from being truly a great player.
The issues were simple, but killed him. On offense, Griffin was not a knock down shooter. Griffin could hit the fifteen foot jump shot, but it was not as consistent as it needed to be. Too many times last season a good defender like a Kevin Garnett could use solid defensive positioning to keep him from using his freakish athleticism to get to the basket and score. The same positioning kept him off the offensive boards and out of the stat sheets. Granted not every team had a KG like defender, but it just goes to show that he had a weakness that could be exploited by solid teams.
The other issue was his defense was nonexistent. Yes, Blake would make an occasional block due to his athletic ability, but his positioning was awful. Guys that should not have been able to get to the basket on him did regularly. Too many times as well he would play off his man only to see guys like Amare Stoudemire bury shots in his face.
However, this is why Griffin may some day be the gold standard of the NBA. While guys like LeBron James (still waiting for a post game) tasted success and were satisfied with their games, Blake was not. Griffin went out and worked his tail off during the lockout and committed himself to getting better in the areas that he was weak. Griffin is a student of the game that wants to get better and more importantly win. This means that he needs to work hard and be a complete player to help his team win.
The fact is Griffin is a much more consistent shooter. If he is left some space, he will bury the fifteen footer with ease more often than not. This means his man cannot play off him to avoid being taken to the basket. This is allowing him to be able to use his freakish athletic ability to get to the basket and make more high light reel plays. It has also led to his shooting percentage being up from last year’s 50 percent to 54 percent.
The biggest improvement in his game is on the defensive end. Before I felt he was a joke. The biggest, fastest, and most athletic guy on the floor would let his man get right by him into the teeth of the defense. This is just not the case anymore. He fights for position on every defensive possession. He gets the positioning and gets active with his hands. Griffin is deflecting balls, blocking shots, getting steals, and causing general havoc on the defensive end. The results are very evident the last few games. Griffin blocked three shots and recorded a steal against in a game against Utah. Griffin also had a block and two steals against Washington.
In only his second year the future is starting to be now. Blake Griffin is turning himself from a great high light reel player like Shawn Kemp to a game changing talent like a Kobe Bryant. This means while people are ready to crown guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the future of the NBA, people better realize that Griffin could end up being a better player than any of them. The bottom line is Griffin is only going to get better. This is a scary thought for the rest of the league.